Sears 25X via an interesting confluence of events

A confluence of events and offers has made it possible to earn up to 25 miles per dollar when buying merchandise at Sears.com via the MileagePlus Shopping Portal:

  • The United MileagePlus shopping portal is currently offering 8 miles per dollar at Sears to Chase MileagePlus credit card holders (and 6X to everyone else).
  • The United MileagePlus shopping portal is currently offering 500 bonus miles with every $250 spent through the portal.
  • The Chase Freedom card is currently offering 5 points per dollar at department stores (including Sears), up to $1500 in spend this quarter.
  • Sears is currently allowing gift card purchases to earn points through the United MileagePlus shopping portal.

Let’s look at each of these, in turn:

Sears up to 8X via MileagePlus Shopping

If you’re a MileagePlus cardholder, you’ll see that Sears is currently offering 8 miles per dollar through the United MileagePlus shopping portal.  Otherwise, you’ll see an offer for 6 miles per dollar.  I don’t know when this promotion ends:

MileagePlusShopping_Sears_8X

You do not need to pay with your MileagePlus card in order to take advantage of this offer.

MileagePlus shopping promo

The United MileagePlus shopping portal is currently offering 500 bonus miles with every $250 spent through the portal.  Maximum bonus is 2500 miles (e.g. $1250 total spend).

MileagePlusShoppingHoliday2

 

Chase Freedom 5 points per dollar

If you have a Chase Freedom card and you haven’t yet spent $1500 at department stores and/or Amazon.com this quarter, then you can still earn 5 points per dollar at Sears.

Freedom5X_Qtr42013_FrequentMiler

In prior tests, I found that you can earn the 5% bonus by buying Sears e-gift cards, but not physical gift cards.

Gift cards allowed, but not for long

Currently, most point earning portals show that Sears is allowing gift cards, but only through 12/18/13:

MileagePlusShopping_Sears_8X_giftcards_allowed

It has long been the case that Sears’ physical gift cards earn portal points despite terms stating otherwise, but e-gift cards only earn points when the terms explicitly allow gift cards.  We learned that recently when Sears offered an amazing 16 miles per dollar through this same portal (see “Lessons learned from Sears 12X and 16X offers“).

Maximizing points per dollar

Here’s how to maximize your point earnings for purchases at Sears (assuming you have both required credit cards and you have not already maximized any of the promotions listed):

  1. Go through the MileagePlus portal to Sears
  2. Buy e-gift cards and pay with your Freedom card.  Ideally, buy a multiple of $125 worth of e-gift cards, up to a maximum of $625 (e.g. buy either: $125, $250, $375, $500, or $625)
  3. Once you receive the e-gift cards, go through the MileagePlus portal again.
  4. Buy merchandise and pay with your e-gift cards.

Assuming you bought $125 worth of e-gift cards and $125 worth of merchandise with those gift cards, here is how the points add up:

  • Purchase of e-gift cards: 5 points per dollar from Freedom card, plus 8 miles per dollar from portal = 13 miles per dollar
  • Use of e-gift cards to buy merchandise: 8 miles per dollar
  • Portal bonus: $125 e-gift card purchase + $125 merchandise purchase = $250.  Bonus = 500 miles = 4 miles per dollar (based on $125 in out of pocket expenses)
  • Total miles per dollar: 25
  • Total miles earned on $125 spend: 3,125

Notes and cautions

  • Portals are never perfect.  There is always a risk that expected miles won’t materialize.
  • The numbers calculated above assume that purchases total exactly $125 with no tax or shipping charges.  In reality, you’ll probably spend more or less than that and there will be sales tax, at least, that won’t earn 8 miles per dollar through the portal.  So expect your results to be something less than 25X.
  • Merchandise purchased with gift cards do not get the purchase protections automatically given by many credit cards.
  • Sears sends almost all gift card purchases to their fraud department to be verified.  You will most likely receive a phone call asking for proof of identity before your order will be processed.  If it is processed after 12/18/2013, the purchase might not earn miles from the portal.
  • After 12/18, if the 8X promo is still running, you should be able to replicate all of the above results by reloading gift cards rather than buying new ones.


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Comments

  1. You said reloading GC might also work after 12/18. Does it work now? If I reload GC rather than buy e-GC, can I get 8X points?

  2. Will I maximize the bonuses the same if I buy one $625 e-gift card rather than in $125 increments? (my head’s not working enough to figure that out!) thank you…

    • Yes, you can buy just one $625 e-gift card. Note that the portal will take longer to show your miles when you purchase $500 or more (at least, that seems to be about the price point where Sears takes longer to report the sales)

  3. With all due respect…..Neiman’s has 5 miles per $ and the other offers should apply……..And I look much better when leaving the store at Neiman’s……….and it’s friction LAST CALL!

  4. If I don’t have any merchandise to buy at Sears and just want to cash out the GCs, is there still a way to do the double dip, or will that limit me to 8x + 5x + 2x = 15x for a bunch of Sears eGCs that I can then upgrade to Visa GCs in store?

    • Yes, but there are some issues:
      1. Even though Office Depot cash registers will allow the purchase of HI cards with a credit card, not all store managers will allow it.
      2. Some people have reported trouble when trying to buy Sears gift cards with HI cards (I haven’t tried in a long time).
      3. You are likely to get called by Sears’ fraud department to verify your identity. That can be hard to do when they are checking based on info from the credit card used (i.e. the HI card). BigHabitat reported that he was successful in this situation by calling them back.

      • As a non-Freedom holder, and someone who lives near an Office Depot that allows HIGC purchases with credit cards, I have tackled this same question. I can confirm success in buying e-Gift Cards using the Home Improvement Gift Card. I couldn’t get the physical gift card purchases to go through, because they are sold by Kmart, but e-Giftcard purchases work. For my 3 separate purchases, I’ve had to call into account verification each time, but each call was simple and painless–just verifying information from public records to support my identity.

  5. Brandon, as far as I know HIGC not sold at Staples and Office Depot has it but will take cash only. If you have a Speedway gas station you can get 2x category bonus for gas station, then ~2% worth of Speedy rewards.

  6. Seems like the Discover route is easier and less risky.
    Discover portal -> Sears GC reload = 10%
    Reload with Chase Freedom = 5%
    Discover portal->Buy Sears merchandise with Sears GC = 10%

    I’ve gotten 25% this route no problems. Fast and easy!

  7. Aadvantage shopping mall has 3,000 miles for $250 purchase, although only earning 4 miles per dollar spent. I wonder about buying over $250 dollars of gift cards through United shopping mall at 8x and then using the gift cards through Aadvantage shopping mall for an additional 4 miles per dollar spent on a purchase over $250 to get the 3,000 mile bonus.

    • Yes, that’s a great idea. Until you max it out, the AA deal is even better. For example, you could buy $125 in e-gift cards from AA portal and then use it through the AA portal and the math will work out as follows:
      1) Buy e-gift cards: $125 x 4X + 5X Freedom = 1125 miles
      2) Use e-gift cards: $125 x 4X = 500 miles
      3) AA promo = 3000 miles
      Total miles for $125 out of pocket = 4625
      Miles per dollar = 37X

      • Aadvantage T&C specifically says not OK for gift cards (see below) so I think I will purchase the gift cards through United portal and then use the gift cards for my $250 purchase through Aadvantage portal.

        *Terms: From 12/08/13 through 12/22/13 11:59 PM EST receive a one-time additional bonus of up to 3,000 miles when you spend a cumulative amount of $250 or more with the AAdvantage eShoppingsm mall. Spend a cumulative amount of $75-149.99 to earn 1,000 miles; spend a cumulative amount of $150 – $249.99 to earn 2,000 bonus miles; or spend a cumulative amount of $250 or more to earn 3,000 bonus miles. Purchases made at FTD.com through the AAdvantage eShopping mall, returns, shipping, taxes, gift card purchases, and certain products are not eligible for bonus; please see site for coupon code or usage restrictions. Please allow 8-10 weeks from end of promotional period for bonus miles to post to your account. Void where prohibited by law.

  8. Couple more questions.

    How long does it take to receive the e-gift cards? I want to make the purchase today.

    Anyone know if CVS sells the Home Improvement Gift cards? My Citi Dividend has 5% back at drug stores this quarter.

    Should I call in right away if buying e-gift cards with a Home Improvement gift card?

    Thanks all.

  9. I’d rather the 5x the UR mall is giving for Sears, I don’t fly United. Would I still get the 5x UR mall bonus paired with the 5x Freedom bonus, so 10x? Or does one bonus negate the other?

    THANKS!

  10. Geez, I only purchased one $250 egift card and an actual person from Sears called me to verify the purchase and asked me 5 public record verification questions.

  11. I’m a little confused by the terms “not eligible on sold by Kmart items or any other licensed products.” If I buy an item only found on marketplace (e.g. skin care), but say “sold by bitdeals.com” using an e-gift card, will I still get points based on the product purchase?

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